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HomeNewsCaribbean NewsBuilding a Metaverse World with a real-world economy

Building a Metaverse World with a real-world economy

By PYMNTS

When Kevin Beauregard talks about the economy of his forthcoming racing game, ExoGP, the CEO of gaming developer Atmos Labs wants to talk about ownership, not earning.

The metaverse-focused game’s core is the exosuit, a sort of armored wingsuit built on a nonfungible token (NFT) that lets you build and add other NFT-based components onto it to make it fly better and faster – in a lot of different ways.

He has described it as Formula One-meets-flight-mechanics. And just as many auto racing games give players ways to upgrade an engine, transmission or suspension, ExoGP allows players to upgrade their suits in ways that will include making those component NFTs or buying them, likely on either an in-game or third-party NFT marketplace.

“I don’t love the play-to-earn narrative,” Beauregard told PYMNTS recently. “I focus on the word ownership. If you make something about earning then all it is about is work. It is no longer fun.”

At the same time, he said, “that doesn’t mean there aren’t real money components to it … Game economies are real money economies. People can trade the assets that [players are] creating because they own them.”

However, that means you have to spend a lot of time developing the economics because it is not entirely controlled by a central entity.

Two competing metaverses

Beauregard said that last point would be key to the future of the metaverse and even the internet.

“There’s two, let’s call them divergent, views of the metaverse,” he said. “One is the ‘One Ring to Rule Them All’ version which is [Meta CEO Mark] Zuckerberg’s version of it.”

See also: Meta Metaverse Weekly: In Zuckerberg’s World, Hologram Workers Will Teleport In

The second, Beauregard said, “is an open, decentralized … next-generation evolution of the Internet” that is commonly called Web3 and postulates a blockchain-based, decentralized web free of the centralized control of big tech firms and allows people complete ownership of their personal information.

That said, Beauregard is a little skeptical of the hype, saying “I think Web3 is a buzzword that means different things to different people. I think that the important piece to take away from it is this idea of true digital ownership – the ability for people to own things that have previously just been ephemeral. Blockchain provides the ability for that true digital ownership.”

With games, that’s especially important as people are working hard to build or win digital items that can be weakened and effectively made valueless by game developers.

“The important piece, to me, is you’re giving rights to your player base, you’re giving rights to people who are participating within the ecosystem,” he said. “And your ecosystem is stronger because of it.”

But your economy is more difficult.

Multiple worlds, multiple rails

Instead of a single metaverse with every experience piled into one centrally controlled world like Meta’s Horizon Worlds or the blockchain-based Decentraland and The Sand box (even if their control is provided by a DeFi-style DAO platform) Beauregard sees the metaverse as “the connection between all of these different, disparate worlds” like the one in which ExoGP will live.

See more: DeFi Series: Unpacking DeFi and DAO

Due out in the first quarter of next year, ExoGP is what Beauregard calls “metaverse-native sports” — meaning gaming that is designed from the ground up for a more immersive virtual world.

The company’s first game will be less about gameplay than participation – the “fan experience” – and what they are doing that makes it more than simply watching someone play a video game. “Because it’s in a game engine, ultimately, you can put a camera anywhere, and you can let people sort of choose their adventure.”

In a fully immersive metaverse of the type in the movie “Ready Player One” – which even Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg agrees is a decade off – that experience shouldn’t be sitting in a virtual arena watching a Lakers game, he said.

“It shouldn’t be basketball because you’re in a virtual world and you’re no longer there to see a physical spectacle – you’re no longer limited by what a human being can do.”

See also: Is the Metaverse Just the Web Wearing 3D Glasses?

Or what a single-world metaverse can or will allow.

Just as you can teleport from one neighborhood to another in Decentraland, Beauregard describes something more like a series of bubbles that are independent immersive virtual worlds of all kinds.

But that requires “things like interoperability, and the ability to move from one to the other,” he said. “That’s a really hard problem to solve. However, I like that vision of the metaverse much better than I like the one-singular-ruler version.”

Interoperable payments rails

Interoperability is where it comes back to payments. Even decentralized metaverses have their own closed payments systems and cryptocurrencies – like Decentraland’s MANA and The Sandbox’s SAND tokens – that must be used for all transactions.

In a broader version of independent-but-linked worlds, it’s more difficult.

“You’re talking about interoperability of payment rails specifically,” he said adding that any interoperability “is a really hard question.”

To start with, you need standards – and people to create them.

“It ultimately means in order to make this a viable experience of these worlds coming together and having interoperability, you have to have some coordination” of things like what version of payments will be accepted across the system, he added.

Comparing the current system – go to a cryptocurrency exchange, sell one token and buy another useable in a particular metaverse – to the pain points you’ll find when traveling abroad and either using a credit card’s exchange rates or going to the Forex stand at the airport.

“Alleviating those pain points is a big challenge, but it is one that’s very tractable,” Beauregard said. “Those are problems that we know how to solve. It just requires the coordination and ultimately, the work.”

Stablecoins are understandable

One good solution, he suggests, is stablecoins, as they remove the “cognitive load” of making yourself think in another currency — in the manner that core NFT collectors tend to price them in the volatile ether cryptocurrency rather than dollars. Of course, there are reasons the main NFT marketplaces are adding credit and debit card support.

“But there’s a massive world out there of people who do not think in bitcoin or ether or whatever,” Beauregard said. “Getting to a fundamental unit of account that people understand, that’s an important thing.”

“It’s too early to say what will come out on top,” he adds. “But it comes down to a singular problem, which is people need to understand how to account for what they’re buying.”

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